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Economy

Sri Lanka exporters, tourism sector woo China

Some 30 Sri Lankan companies representing various sectors took part in the 16th China International Small and Medium Fair (CISMEF) last week as part of a Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) campaign to showcase and promote Sri Lankan products to the Asian giant.

Held from 24 to 27 June, the event saw the participation of businesses in key sectors including gem & jewellery, tea, spices, handicrafts and coconut products.

Two presentations were made by SLEDB Deputy Director D. M. P. Dissanayake and Coconut Development Authority Assistant Director V. U. Egodawattage on Sri Lanka’s trade products, trade potential and coconut products.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, many Sri Lankan exhibitors had explained the various export sectors in Sri Lanka to the local buyers. A ‘Matchmaking session’ was also conducted, the statement said, to facilitate interaction between Sri Lankan and Chinese companies. According to the Ministry, exhibitors were able to secure buyers for their products at the fair.

The SLEDB, together with the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Guangzhou, China, spearheaded the Sri Lanka campaign, according to an SLEDB press release. This is the sixth time Sri Lanka took part in the CISMEF.

The Fair was inaugurated in 2004 to provide a platform to display, trade, exchange and cooperate with small and medium establishments at home and overseas to increase understanding, and further strengthen cooperation for development of trade between China and other countries.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) has stepped up its efforts to attract more Chinese tourists to the island.

A group of 103 travel agents and professionals – the largest contingent of travel agents from China to date – from Chengdu, Shanghai, Beijing and other cities are now in Sri Lanka on eight-day familiarisation tour organised by a local destination management company in collaboration with a prominent Chinese travel company.

The purpose of the tour, according to SLTPB, was to assure China that Sri Lanka is now safe for tourists. China is the second largest source market for Sri Lanka in the tourism sector, having brought in 265,965 travellers in 2018. The country’s 150 million outbound tourists are increasing at a rapid 14% annually.
Welcoming the move, SLTPB Chairman Kishu Gomes highlighted the importance of the private sector’s focusing on wooing Chinese tourists in the wake of the Easter Attacks. Though the attacks had dealt a devastating blow to tourism, Gomes said that the industry is showing steady progress, with the month of June showing a 70% growth.

The familiarisation tour, which commenced on Monday (1 July 1) at Hilton Colombo, will cover all key tourist attractions around the island.